reviews

Ragnar Kjartansson, Take Me Here by the Dishwasher: Memorial for Marriage, 2011/2014. Performance view.

Ragnar Kjartansson

Barbican Art Gallery

Ragnar Kjartansson, Take Me Here by the Dishwasher: Memorial for Marriage, 2011/2014. Performance view.

Ragnar Kjartansson is only forty, but the immense span of media and sheer number of works in this midcareer survey suggest an eccentric figure who has been around for a long while. His work is strikingly contemporary in an old-fashioned way. The show—which blurred many boundaries—never spilled over from performance into spectacle. Its subtlety lay in the comfortable tension between its vitality and the dark northern European humor underlying it. You were never sure whether to laugh or cry, or both—or neither.

Kjartansson conjures a world in which the viewer is often a voyeur, on the periphery of a commune-like crew of folk making music or art or love, for whom there is no separation between work and leisure, always with a beer in hand, engaged in a kind of utopian togetherness, unconcerned with race or gender or class or war. Here, we peer into Kjartansson’s world

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